When George Foreman III was growing up in Houston, he learned the value of giving young people a safe, healthy place to blow off steam.
His father, the legendary boxer, ran a nonprofit youth and community center where neighborhood kids could pay their age — if you were 8 years old, your membership fee was $8 a year — and use its gym to exercise, socialize, or just stay out of the heat. The elder Foreman himself credits physical fitness with transforming him from a young punk to a stand-up guy.
So the younger Foreman — one of George Foreman’s five sons named George — was following in his dad’s footsteps when he opened the Club by George Foreman III in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood last year.
But something nagged at Foreman. His gym’s $150-a-month membership made it inaccessible to the types of kids who benefited from his father’s club, which is still in operation.
Foreman III was reminded of that every time he spoke to Boston-area youth groups and they would inquire about working out at his gym.
“They’d be so excited,” he said, “and I’d have to say, ‘I’m sorry, you can’t afford it because you don’t have the money.’ It just didn’t feel right.”
So Foreman, 32, who lives in South Boston, cold-called the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and made an unusual proposal. He offered to let its kids use his gym for free on weekend afternoons as long as they meet certain requirements. Among them: perfect attendance at school, no run-ins with the police, and a pledge to also work out three times a week at a Boys & Girls Clubs gym.
The organization agreed. Now, on Saturdays and Sundays, his gym’s patrons often include kids 13 and up from the Boys & Girls Clubs network.
Foreman also offers free instruction to some Boys & Girls Clubs trainers so they, in turn, can give Foreman-quality training to kids at their gyms.
How do his full-paying members feel about sharing their treadmills on weekends? Foreman said he was “extremely concerned” about that at first, but not anymore.
“For a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays, there might be a 14-year-old around laughing,” he said, “but most people appreciate they belong to a gym that gives back.”
on Twitter at @SachaPfeiffer.